Ad Astra Per Arcana
What follow are the basic rules for using vehicles in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. They give an overview of the rules that all vehicles use, modified for spelljammer use.
Note: See Gamemastering Vehicles for information relating to maneuvering vehicles, combat involving vehicles, and more.
Drivers: Drivers control vehicles. A Spelljammer is a driver who is both within the driving spaces of a vehicle and actively manipulating the driving device. When a Helm is the driving device it requires the ability to cast 1st level spells in order to activate.
Occupants: Any creature riding, driving, serving as crew on, or providing propulsion for a vehicle is considered its occupant.
Facing: Unlike characters, vehicles have a forward facing. A vehicle moves best when it moves in the direction of its forward facing.
Acceleration/Deceleration: Vehicles must accelerate to reach their maximum speed. Each round, with the proper driving action and a successful check, the driver can increase the vehicle’s movement by its rate of acceleration, as long that value is no greater than the vehicle’s maximum speed. Vehicles must decelerate to slow down and are hard to stop at an exact point.
Initiative: A vehicle moves at the start of its driver’s turn. If a vehicle has no driver, it moves on the turn of the last creature that was its driver, or on a turn determined by the GM.
Controlling a Vehicle: If a vehicle has a driver, before the driver does anything else on her turn, she must determine what drive action she is taking, and take that action. If the driver takes no action, takes some other action instead of driving the vehicle, or delays or readies an action—or if there is no driver—the vehicle takes the “uncontrolled” action. A driver can only take one action each turn to control a vehicle. Once the driver has selected the action, or takes some other action forcing the vehicle to become uncontrolled, the vehicle moves.
Driving Check: When a driver takes a driving action, she must make a driving check to determine the maneuverability and speed of the vehicle that round. The vehicle’s propulsion determines what skill is used for the driving check. A driver can always make a Wisdom check in place of a driving check. The base DCs for all driving checks are DC 5 and DC 20. Use the lower DC when the driver is not in combat and the higher DC when the driver is in combat.
In Combat: Vehicles, creatures used as propulsion (giant space hamsters for instance), and crew members do not threaten any area around them, but their drivers and their non-crew occupants do. Vehicles can enter the spaces of objects and creatures smaller than themselves. Vehicles do not have attacks, but they can—and may be required to—make vehicular bull rush, vehicular overrun, and ramming combat maneuvers.
Below are explanations of some of the traits noted in vehicle statistics. If information for a given category is not listed in a given stat block, it is not applicable. This information has been expanded to include spelljamming data.
Name: The name of the vehicle.
Size and Type: Divided into land, sea, air, and wildspace.
Squares: The typical size of the vehicle is measured in a number of squares, followed by the standard configuration of those squares.
Cost: The vehicle’s cost in gp. Sometimes the description or the weapons section provides possible modifications for the vehicles. These are not included in the cost of the vehicle, nor are additions like helms, rams or siege engines.
AC and Hardness: This is the AC and harness of the vehicle. The AC assumes the vehicle is in motion and the driver has not modified the AC with his driving skill. If the vehicle is not in motion, it has an effective Dexterity of 0 (–5 penalty to AC), and an additional –2 penalty to its AC.
hp: While a vehicle can be attacked in combat, it is often hard to significantly damage large vehicles. When a vehicle reaches the hit point total in the parentheses, it is broken A vehicle’s hit points do not factor in its method of propulsion or the driving device. They have their own statistics.
Base Save: Each vehicle has a base save modifier. All of the vehicle’s saving throws (Fortitude, Reflex, and Will) have the same value. This is the vehicle’s save before the driver modifies it with his driving check.
Maximum Speed: This is the fastest that a vehicle can move. When a vehicle has more than one method of propulsion, it may also have more than one maximum speed.
CMB and CMD: The CMB an CMD before the driver modifies it with his driving check modifier.
Acceleration: This is how fast a vehicle can increase its speed each round. It also determines the maximum amount a vehicle can safely decelerate each round.
Propulsion: The type and amount of propulsion required.
Driving Check: The skills typically used to make a vehicle driving check with this vehicle. I the case of wildspace vehicles Pilot (Spelljammer) is the relevant skill.
Forward Facing: The direction of the vehicle’s forward facing.
Driving Device: The typical driving device the driver manipulates when driving the vehicle. For spelljammers this will almost universally be a Helm.
Helm Traits: Helms can have 1d4 traits, one of which is usually used by by Cruising Speed, with Dweomer Boost being the second most common. See Helm Traits for a list of available traits.
Tactical Rating: The ship’s maximum tactical speed in combat as determined by it’s helm and helmsman. An asterisk indicates the ship has Splendid Sails, and can move at + 1 TR when it moves in the same direction as the wind while in an atmosphere or in the stillness of wildspace. A ship with nothing but Splendid Sails can only move at TR 1 and cannot attain Spelljamming Speed
Driving Space: The size and the location of the vehicle’s driving space. In ships powered by Helms this space is the square in which the Helm sits.
Crew: This is the number of crew members, in addition to the driver, needed to move the vehicle.
Decks: The number of decks and any important information about those decks is given in this section.
Weapons: Some vehicles can be equipped with siege weapons. This is the number of siege or vehicle weapons that a vehicle can have.
-The following is unconverted to our present system. Thanks to Dreamer for doing the initial heavy lifting on this one!_
These are all the ships from CoAS, with details for Mindspider and Armada added from LotV.
Name KL BL SS T/HP Crew MC AC Hard Ram SA Land Cost
Flitter 20 5 1 1 1 B 7 1 – – L+W 10
Longship 75 15 3 4 4/ 4 E 3 – opt 1 W 10
Mosquito 100 15 3 6 1/ 6 C 6 – – – L+W 15
Caravel 70 20 3 10 8/10 F 2 – – 1 W 10
Coaster 60 20 3 10 8/10 F 2 – – 1 W 5
Drakkar 100 20 4 10 20/10 F 2 – – 1 W 25
Dragonfly 100 20 4 10 3/10 C 1 – – 1 L 40
Damselfly 100 20 4 10 2/10 D 5 1 – 1 L 50
Dromond 175 15 4 16 10/16 E 0 – P 3 W 15
Wasp 80 20 4 18 8/18 D 3 – – 1 L 20
Cog 90 20 4 20 10/20 F 0 – – – W 10
Great Galley 130 20 5 20 15/20 F 0 – P 3 W 30
Tyrantship 100 100 8 23 15/23 C 1 1 – – – 100
Tradesman 120 30 5 25 10/25 D 2 – – 2 – 15
Sidewheeler 120 25 4 30 20/30 E 2 1 – – L?W? 40
Nautiloid 180* 30 5 35 10/35 D 3 – P 5 W 40
Mindspider 140 15 4 40 3/40 C 5 1 G+P 3 – 120
Galleon 130 30 5 40 20/40 E 0 – opt 3 W 50
Squidship 250* 25 5 45 12/45 D 2 – G/P 3 W 45
Dragonship 150 20 4 45 20/45 D 4 – opt 3 W 60
Hammership 250 25 6 60 24/60 D -1 – B 3 W 50
Man-o-War 200 20 5 60 10/60 C 0 1 – 4 – 100
Deathspider 175- 50 7 100 30/100 E -2 1 G 6 – 75
Armada 300 30 7 100 40/100 D -2 1 – 14 – -
Citadel 250 200 18 300 100/300 E -19 1 B 10 L 100
KL: Keel Length in feet, = including ram, -= excluding arms
*BL: Beam Length in feet
SS: Ship Size, see table; if KL includes ram, assume it is a third of the length
T/HP: Tonnage/Hull Points
Crew: minimum/safe in human-equivalents
MC: Maneuverability Class
AC: Armour Class; includes Size modifier
Hard: Hardness of hull material; reduction in hull points damage; -= zero
Ram: opt= Optional, P= Piercing, B= Blunt, G= Grappling, -= None
SA: Standard Armament in large weapons; -= None
Land: L= Land, W= Water, L+W= Land&Water, L?W?= Land 50%/Water 50%, -= Can’t
Cost: is in tens of thousands of gold pieces; -= not for sale
Substance Hardness Thin Wood 0 Thick Wood 0 Leather 0 Bone 0 Stone 1 Crystal 1 Ceramic 1 Metal 1 Mithral 1 Adamantite 2
Hardness:* measured in hull points
Note that hulls with a Hardness of more than zero are the substances which are not likely to catch fire, from any normal, or even standard magical, fire.
Even in an immensely hot fire only Metal is likely to burn; I don’t think that I’ve ever seen any rules on what it takes to make Mithral or Adamantite burn (melt, yes, burn, no).
Base Limit AC SS KL x BL KL x BL Mod Large 10x 4 15x 6 -1 1 20x 8 30x 12 -2 2 40x 16 50x 20 -4 3 60x 24 70x 28 -6 4 80x 32 90x 36 -8 5 100x 40 110x 44 -10 6 120x 48 130x 52 -12 7 140x 56 150x 60 -14 8 160x 64 170x 68 -16 9 180x 72 190x 76 -18 10 200x 80 210x 84 -20 12 240x 96 250x100 -24 14 280x112 290x116 -28 16 320x128 330x132 -32 18 360x146 370x148 -36 32 640x256 650x260 -64
SS: Ship Size
Base, Limit: measured in feet SS x 20 = KL, SS x 8 = BL, SS x 2 = AC Modifier
Keel Limit: Keel Base + 10, Beam Limit = Beam Base + 4
Note: SS 1 is Huge, SS 2+3 is Gargantuan, SS 4+ is Colossal
To convert a ship multiply together the KL and BL (after removing any KL which corresponds to a ram) and find the closest Ship Size, for which the KL x BL is less than or equal to the Limit KL x BL, and greater than the Limit for the previous Ship Size.
To calculate the AC use 17 – AR – AC Mod.
By Dreamer Publications, 1980 – May 2006
Image by Silverblade